History on the Run: Hmong Refugees and Knowledge Formation
Lecture | March 4 | 4:30-6 p.m. | 554 Barrows Hall
Ma Vang, Assistant Professor of Critical Race and Ethnic Studies, UC Merced
This talk examines the critical narratives of refugee migration and community formation from a Hmong epistemological perspective. By analyzing Hmong womens narratives against U.S. redacted archival records that erase Hmong and Laos history during the U.S. secret war, the talk explores the politics of knowledge formation which has generated a historiography about the Hmong refugee as a masculinized refugee soldier and a distinct U.S. ally. Taking a feminist refugee approach, the talk makes two key points. First, it asserts that Hmong refugee history illuminates the groups non-state status in Southeast Asia during Cold War postcolonial Laos. Second, the talk argues that Hmong womens narratives rechronicles the history of war through the patterns of displacement and migration rather than military operations, which does not succumb to either of the veteran or good refugee representations. Hmong womens narratives rechronicling of history foregrounds refugees as knowing subjects whose social production can help us understand the processes of war and militarism, gender and migration, and knowledge formation.
Ma Vang (Ph.D., UC San Diego) is Assistant Professor of Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at UC Merced. Her interdisciplinary research on Hmong refugees and the secret war advances a refugee critique of secrets, history, and knowledge production. Her book manuscript, "History on the Run: Secrets and Hmong Refugee Epistemologies", examines how secrecy structures both official knowledge and refugee epistemologies about war and migration. She is the co-editor of Claiming Place: On the Agency of Hmong Women (2016), and her writings have been published in positions: asia and MELUS. She has received several awards including the Ford Dissertation Fellowship, the UC Presidents Postdoctoral Fellowship, and the UC Multicampus Research grant. She is a founding member of the Critical Refugee Studies Collective and co-editor of the Collectives website. She is also actively engaged with community organizations such as the Hmongstory 40 Project and the Southeast Asian American Professionals Association.
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